Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) - Get Report posted weaker-than-expected third quarter earnings Thursday as freight volumes decline amid a slowing global economy and myriad U.S. trade disputes.

Union Pacific said earnings for the three months ending in September came in at $2.22 per share, up 3.25% from the same period last year but 9 cents shy of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, UNP said, fell 7.25% to $5.5 billion, again short of analysts' estimates of a $5.67 billion tally. Business freight volumes, UNP said, fell 8% from last year, which freight revenues were 7% lower.

Looking into the final months of 2019, Union Pacific said it sees freight volumes falling at a similar rate in the fourth quarter as in the previous three months, and trimmed its full-year capital expenditures forecast by around $100 million to $3.1 billion.

"Given the challenging volume environment we delivered solid third quarter financial results, including an all-time best quarterly operating ratio of 59.5%," said CEO Lance Fritz. "The work our employees are doing as part of Unified Plan 2020 is foundational to the company's success and I am confident there are additional improvement opportunities going forward for our customers and shareholders."

"We look forward to building on our Unified Plan 2020 successes as we provide a highly consistent and reliable service product for our customers," Fritz added. "We remain squarely focused on driving long-term shareholder value by appropriately investing in the railroad and returning excess cash to our shareholders."

Union Pacific shares were marked 1.5% lower at the start of trading following the earnings release to change hands at $160.51, a move that would trim the stock's year-to-date gain to around 15%.